In memory of Jörn Cann

I was deeply saddened to hear ten days ago of the death of Jörn Cann, the ward doctor in the haematology unit where I was treated for lymphoma. He was a rare human being, and even rarer doctor: charming and objectionable, foul-mouthed yet compassionate. Nobody who met him -you usually heard him approaching before you actually saw him- will forget him. He was proof that Arsenal fans can have a sense of humour, and live testament to the hope of a cure for everyone he treated. The world is a smaller and much quieter place without him today.


in memory of Jörn Cann



The nurse announces the canula.

One Sharp scratch and you’re there,


vial after ochre vial,



Cousin to tawny port

your sheen’s a glossy russet.


You do not gush, you seep,

but would soak


the world

if you could.


You’re not much to look at:

but, spun, you separate –


lymph, plasma

and marrow, the very core


of us, telling everything.

Famously salty


to the taste, you seem stable as mercury.

If only.

from Riddance (Worple, 2012)



  1. This is how I shal remember him too! He was treating me in day case for CML & he is a true insiration to us all. A very great loss.


  2. I only heard a rumour yesterday and when I Googled Jorn Cann to find out, got your blog. I’ve been attending Jorn’s ward since 2003 for treatment for Haemochromatosis and his presence there made each visit a positive experience, I actually looked forward to bandying words with him instead of dreading the treatment. Tragic


  3. Hi John. I still cannot believe it either. He was a life force in a very dark time for me. I remember once he just looked at me as I entered the award and before I had even opened my mouth shouted ‘Don’t!’ (Arsenal had just lost to Chelsea). They do not teach that at medical school.


  4. Hi Anthony, Sorry to bang on about Jorn, I’ll shut up after this but he was a very specific part of my life. As I attend Yarty on my own, nobody else I know, knew him so my wife, friends workmates cannot shere my sadness. The recent deaths of Bert Jansch, John Martyn, Gary Moore etc. whilst being sad were at least of people of an age where death happens, especially given the drug intake in their younger days. I could talk about then with my fellow guitarists, reminisce of gigs attended, songs played and by that process lay their memories to rest. With Jorn that cannot happen. As I said earlier I Googled his name this morning and in ten pages the only reference to his death was your blog so although there will be hundreds if not thousands of people out there sad at his death actually connecting with one of them makes all the difference. Cheers


  5. Hi JohnI’m glad you found my blog and took time to write in response. It is good to know I am not alone in missing him.Good wishes and thanksAnthony


  6. Dear Mr . Anthony Wilson,Many thanks fo your deep emotioanlwords for my nephew Jörn Cann.We miss him too and are very sadabout his sudden and too early deathJürgen


  7. Dear JurgenThank you so much hfor taking the time to comment on my post about Jorn. I miss him deeply, even though I came to his acquaintance through having cancer. I am told he had a virus ; in another version that it was peritonitis. Either way, a very important doctor in the city of Exeter has been lost far too early. I would like to think we patients may be able to arrange for some kind of memorial to him, in time.Yours with good wishesAnthony


  8. I’d know Jorn when I was a child maybe */- 6 years old and the last time I’d think of him… and so I googled him… and found this sad message about his death…thanks for your warm and emotional words !!!


  9. Hello Nikola, thank you so much for commenting on my post about Jorn. I was treated by him for lymphoma in 2006 and am truly sorry to have lost him. He was a unique and wonderful man, severly missed by us all. With thanks againAnthony


  10. I was so shocked and saddened to hear of Jorn;s passing. He was treating my mum for AML until her death in October 2010. He made the visits more bearable for my mum. He will be greatly missed R.I.P. Jorn, a man never forgotten


  11. Barbara, thank you so much for commenting on my blog post about Jorn. He was in our minds very recently when the ELF newsletter came through. We miss him deeply and it helps to know we are not alone.With best wishes and


  12. I have just found out when reading ELF latest newsletter that Jorn has sadly passed away. He treated my mum on Yarty ward til she passed away September 2010. We, as a family can not speak highly enough of all the staff on Yarty Ward, including Jorn. He always made you smile, even with such sadness on the ward. Remember with fondness the banter of football discussions with him. Will be a very missed person R.I.P Jorn..x


  13. Dear MarieThank you so much for commenting on my post and on Jorn. I really do miss him. I thought of him last night when Thierry Henry scored for Arsenal on his comeback. Not being able to share such things is what I miss the most.With best regardsAnthony


  14. I was shocked and saddened to hear of Jorn’s passing when attending Haematology last Friday.I still find it hard to believe.Of all the Doctors I ahve met as a patient and as a retired nurse with about 40 years service I found Jorn to be one of the best,who will always beremembered by his patients for his kindness,his natural talent for making one feel that one is the only person that matters.I have experienced death in hospital wards, and as a soldier during the war,but it has never affected me as much as Jorn’s passing.I am sure I am not the only one.My thoughts go out to his nearest and dearest,and I shall always be grateful to Jorn for the care he has given to me.He has also given me hope.For this reason I would like to dedicate the following to Jorn: JORN. All your life you cared for others As a Doctor and a true gentleman Now rest in peace through eternity Our dear friend,Dr.Jorn Cann. 22-01-2012


  15. Jorn, was my mum’s fiance and he will be greatly missed. That big beaming smile, the banter, but also a good giggle who always showed a lot of love and support to me, my brother and sister. What I love so much about Jorn is the love and admoration he had for my mum. He will be to us the brigthest star in the sky but will always be around you always Jorn xxx


  16. Thank you so much for commenting on my post about Jorn, Michaela.I can imagine that you all miss him hugely and that his death is a massive loss to you. I remember him saying to me once just ‘Don’t!’ as I walked in, to pre-empt anything I might say about Arsenal losing the night before.He was deeply special and I miss him very much.Thank you so much for taking the time to say how much you miss him too.with good wishes to you allAnthony


  17. Hi Anthony,im so touched after reading the comments people have left and that you and many others still think of him,Jorn was my world and he still is and i think of him 24/7.jorn brought happiness and laughter to so many people.ive lost my soulmate but i know one day ill be with him again.x


  18. Jorn was an amazing man.. Jorn is my stepdad. The thing I loved the most about jorn is that when he come into our family he took all 3 of us childen on like we were his own! I loved living with jorn. Althought I dreaded his music on a monday night I loved every minute of it. Jorn was just like a dad to me and my borther and sister and accepted all of us the way we are. Miss you everyday and will love you forever.. Xxxxxxxx


  19. Dear NicolaThanks so much for commenting on my post about Jorn. I miss him very much, so can only imagine what his lost must be like for you.I saw him in Lidl of all places, not long before he died. He spoke with such warmth about you all, your new house, and of course his rocks, but most especially about you.You may be interested to know that I have two books coming out later this year, both relating to my treatment for lymphoma. One is of poetry, the other a prose memoir. I have been advised to change the names of the doctors in the book, but think it will be very clear which one is Jorn! I would love to send you a copy once it is out and hope we can arrange something.Yours with good wishes  as ever and warm thanks


  20. Dear DionneThank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post about Jorn.I miss him very much as well, and I did not even know him as well as you. He used to talk about his music on the ward. It sounded pretty dreadful the way he spoke of it, so it is strange that these are the things we miss the most. With thanks to you for helping keep his memory aliveAnthony


  21. I’ve been incredibly sad since I discovered the terrible news of Jorn’s death on Sunday.I met him at Southampton University when he was recovering from chemotherapy in 1998. We went swimming together as he tried to build himself up again, and we shared a lot of laughs and a lot of beers (and whiskies too).After uni, I’m so sorry to say I only met him a couple of times – but one of those was a party (in his honour, actually, for getting the all-clear) where the “old gang” from Chamberlain Hall gathered for a really great night. I’ll always remember that night because my wife (Harvinder) and I got together for the first time at that party!I was thinking about him a few years ago – and I saw a little write up of an adventure he had in Iceland. I was really glad he was well and I meant to get in touch… but you know how things (and time) go…Now I will never get to say “Hi” to him. Or to share a belly-laugh as he says something shockingly funny and outrageous. I know it’s safe to say there are literally many hundreds of people that he has touched and who will miss him terribly.Jorn l miss you too, and I wish you hadn’t had to go so soon, my friend.


  22.  Dear Harvey Thanks so much for your kind comment on my post about Jorn. I think what shines through your comments is Jorn’s gift of friendship. In fact, it shines through all the comments that people have made, however they knew him. All I can say is I miss him greatly and was very pleased to have known him. Yours with good wishes Anthony     Anthony Wilson    


  23. FIVE SONNETS FOR JCTWOIn ’88, I was fifty-fiftyWith a quick-to-grin, pool-playing chancerWho liked to mock a “Home County softy”. His chat up was: “Hello. I’ve got cancer.”It worked on Holly. (Where are you now, love?)Swaying, trolleyed, frothing Grolsch in both hands,Giving every party that fizz and shove.(Just glimpses digging at memory-sands)Those memory-gems lie deep; take effort.Like: your mini-fridge — just whiskey and Lindt;Like: the all-air rock-out to Def Leppard.(Towards my future wife you gave the hint)When my own demons stuck out every placeYou picked up the cue and took me at face.DotsThe absolute worst at keeping in touch …Out of a clear-blue Queensland sky my bleepRead: “yern calling u”. So we both, as such,Took the great Australian unknown leap.From shooting hoops one-on-one, from cookingto blitzing exams: the contest was all.On our last stroll — even bent on lookingFor better beach pebbles off that cliff wall.From your own squash-ball nodes you took the slidesTo quibble some pathology senior.Then you couldn’t wait to brag with high-fivesThe fastest bounce-back from neutropenia.Your curry, your gin, your love-making tooWas the best there is, because it was youAboveWhat is a friend ? My own teenage imprintWith her Facebook thing now makes me reflectThat a friend is an extension, in synch,Of yourself, which you may craft or neglect.Friends tend to figments more than you might think.Cosy friends confide (but you never did)As for getting maudlin after a drink,Your clean/hard/loud thing trumps the teary kid.I see you a zone where I could relax,Where my unfiltered thoughts came out to play.It alters; person becomes parallax —Vanishing few to whom I talk this way:Laughing, you drew me in Ku Klux figureAnd loved to be called “my Cornish nigger”.The Shared dislikes are ever common terrain:The two-faced, the stupid who couldn’t care,Anything from the religious domain.(It’s a close call then, ‘twixt poem and prayer !)Add to that pomp and fanfare and, it seems,That nauseating conditional tense —The “Diana would have wanted…”-type theme.It saw little of your backside, that fence.I never did make it to your bedside.For whatever, to whomever —forgive.Would you have wanted, at risk of offside,Some summative statement that may outlive?That death comes to life is well understood,But you lived clean and hard and loud and good.Oh.That wrap-around smile ran right to the core.Squint hard, professor, at the tissue slide.In the pinky pattern morphs something more.You see it ? Magic eye — the grin inside!It is JÖrn. (Not “Yawn”, Prof. so-called Weller).Never once was heard a word of complaint.So Hodge and his cousins got their fella.Never woe nor talk of battles or taint.An Oktoberfest and a Gunners match —Just a couple of jollies we had planned.Of all the women mentioned in dispatch,I longed to see you take that unseen hand.Each unique wish held for this lovely manShall sear us still as only yearning can.


  24. i cant belive hes gone,i feel shocked and gutted i arrived at yarty not far from death and spent about 7 months in there care,yan as i called him was the star off the team,he spent a lot of time with me and my family,and would allways lift my spirits,i have no doubt he saved my life,i loved his sense off humour,i would quite often see him out the new inn or down lidals supermarket ,and hes usual comment to me would be ,,ah kevin still alive ..great man i will truly miss him


  25. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my post about Jorn, Kevin. I miss him very much as well. I last saw him in Lidl, like you, looking happy and forwards, into life, as he always did, without


  26. To NanuGenuine thanks for your touching and hunorous sonnets in memory of Jorn. The start of an anthology perhaps? As ever with best wishes and thank you for taking time to comment on the blog, Anthony


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